The tears were flowing at Kelowna City Council’s last Monday meeting as city councillors Andre Blanleil and Robert Hobson left a combined 50 years of service and Mayor Walter Gray completed his fourth and final term in office.
Highlighting their ability to build partnerships and work together as a “dream team,” Gray noted this council accomplished a difficult feat in overcoming the sluggish economic outlook they were faced with upon election in 2011.
“It certainly didn’t stand in the way of this council becoming infectious,” he said.
Having served as chairman of the regional district and as president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, Hobson offered some sage advice to the new council to come.
“You may at times grow weary of your fellow councillors…You may feel frustrated by the media…You are now here to represent the whole city, not your neighbourhood…Remember to take the long view and pledge, like the people of the Ancient City of Athens, to always leave your city more beautiful than you found it.”
Hobson leaves behind 26 years as a career politician, while Blanleil, owner of Andres Electronic Experts, is stepping aside after 21 years on council.
“I just wanted to thank the pubic for certainly trusting myself for 21 years,” said Blanleil.
He then thanked Hobson for “being the left-wing side of my right-wing self” and told the mayor he had a way of always making council fun.
Many of those around the table took time to note they are unimpressed by the attack refrain coming out of this election run, which places city staff in the firing line for their wages.
“Staff have taken some hits in the past little while and they are unfair,” said Coun. Gerry Zimmerman.
The one-term councillor and former fire chief has also decided to step away from public life and noted he intends to travel with his wife.
Running for mayor, Coun. Colin Basran shed a tear over the last minutes of his first term on council. He thanked fellow councillors for helping him learn the ropes.
“It has been an honour to serve with you and I’ll cherish this, and even if this is the only three years I get on council, I’m so proud of what we did,” he said.